Restaurant Inspo and Faves

Hello hello!

Today I woke up craving almond milk but with no desire to make it. Ah life without Whole Foods at my fingertips…so hard. While grocery conveniences like store-bought Almond Milk were a regular thing on our trip, the real goods came in the form of delicious restaurants and of course home-cooked meals. I will do a separate post on the home-cooked delights, but below are my top 5 favorite foodie stops from our trip. We had so many delicious meals along the way that it feels criminal to narrow it all down, but what I liked about the ones listed, is that they were all pretty specialized restaurants but at the same time “everyone-friendly” without feeling like they were trying too hard.

bubcity

 

(yes. that is an American flag made out of various Bud cans. cheers, Bub City! source)

1)      Hummus Place– NYC

Hummus Place was a Middle Eastern restaurant that we sort of stumbled upon our last day in New York. We had a few splurges restaurant-wise prior to this meal, but this place was very  wallet-friendly and surprised us by being one of our favorite meals. The restaurant serves simple Mediterranean cuisine but with a healthy flair. The Tabbouleh was served with quinoa and fresh veggies, and the babaganush was so fresh and delicious, I was practically eating it with a spoon. Favorite part: they made Mojitos with anise wine. First of all, I didn’t even know such a thing existed, but wow, how delicious and different.

2)      Pure Food and Wine– NYC

This place was my MUST restaurant prior to the trip. I have such a girl crush on Sarma Melngailis and have read through her cookbooks several times over. She is a genius and one of the original raw foodies of NYC. Pure Food and Wine is raw organic restaurant but it is SO not what you’d expect. The vibe in the restaurant is very nice (not hippy at all) and the food is to die for. You could take any raw foods skeptic to this restaurant and definitely turn them. We tried several dishes, but my favorite had to be the Philly Roll of avocado, kimchee, and creamy cashew cheese with tatsoi, scallions, hijiki and sweet chili sauce. When I saw it on the menu I thought “oh, veggie sushi, no thanks”, but good thing my boyfriend ordered it. I’d also recommend the Lasagna and Purple Haze martini (FRESH grape juice and sake. You read that right).

3)      Frontera Grill– Chicago

I LOVE Mexican food, but it has to be done right. Frontera Grill does it better than right. The owner and chef, Rick Bayless was an anthropologist who went to Mexico to do field research and published a book on the regional cuisine. Today he is one of the leading chefs of Mexican cuisine in the United States and has built an mini empire. Frontera Grill is his more casual restaurant and the food is known for being Mexican but with a twist. My favorite dishes had to be the tamales and goat enchiladas, but truthfully, everything was absolutely delicious. Also, the margaritas there are PROPER and even sweetened with agave. Divine.

4)      Big Grove Tavern– Champaign, IL

Big Grove is one of downtown Champaign’s newest installations and it is really a sweet new spot. The restaurant is based on sustainability principles and keeps its menu seasonal while trying to source all its ingredients from local farmers and butchers. I think you can understand why I was nearly running to this restaurant when I heard about it. On top of building its business on principles I whole-heartedly support, the food is delicious! Win-win and definitely a spot to check out should you ever find yourself in Champaign, Illinois.

5)      Bub City– Chicago

My boyfriend wanted a country night before we left the States and he wanted to try BBQ. Cue Bub City. Bub City is a country music spot in the River North area of Chicago and the fare is of the good old American BBQ variety. I’m talking pulled pork, ribs, waffle fries, you name it. So while the boy got his fix of American BBQ, I found a delicious salad that still fit with that American BBQ genre but completely satisfied my diet preferences that evening (it was vegan!). If you’re in Chicago and want a fun American experience, go to Bub City, they won’t disappoint.

All the above were special meals with special people, resulting in some amazing memories. We had fun 🙂

newlywade1

 

 

Now, someone get me an anise wine mojito.

 

xo,

 

Natalia

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Friday Delights: 5 Tips for Greener Eating

Happy Friday! And one more Happy 95th Birthday to Nelson Mandela (even  though it was yesterday), that man is a true legend and hero.

EarthHeart

 

(source)

I think I’ve made it pretty clear that one of the ways I choose to be little bit greener is through the food choices I make. I don’t just do it to for the planet (let’s be serious, while what I choose to eat for dinner might have a tiny impact, it isn’t saving the world), I do it to sustain my body and health as well. Here are some tips for greener eating which are bound to make you feel delightful all around, because they make you and the world a little greener:

  1. Cut back on animal products. There are so many alternatives these days and wholesome plant based meals are so damn delightful that you’ll eventually love and crave them.
  2. Buy local. Check out your local organic markets, and support your local farmers. Gotta have that meat? Locally produced meats are more sustainably and ethically produced than the mass-made meats in grocery stores.
  3. Eat seasonally. Chances are if it’s not in season, then it’s imported… it wastes a lot of energy and resources to get you those juicy peaches in the middle of winter… go for the juicy pears instead.
  4. Indulge in organic and fair trade products when you can. Organic foods are chemical free and fair trade foods are produced with ethical standards in place in terms of workers’ wages, working conditions, etc.
  5. Put some thought into your meal planning. For example, eating raw foods minimizes energy used to make the meal (plus the added health benefits of raw vs cooked); cooking just enough food minimizes waste; and balancing your meals ensures you’ll be satisfied and get the most out of your food.

Want some delightful motivation?

  • While it is hard to calculate the exact number, approximately 200 animals (including fish) are killed per omnivore, per year.  So, cutting back on your animal products can really make an impact.
  • According to a study done by the University of Chicago, going vegan can potentially reduce your carbon footprint by over a ton.

Bottom line: green eating incorporates feel good foods, and the more feel good foods we eat, the more delightful we feel.

 

xo,

Natalia